Aesop Rock

Two years to the month after the release of Labor Days, the virile verbalist known as Aesop Rock returns with his fourth album, Bazooka Tooth.

If fellow collegiate icons R.E.M. hadn't already taken the name, Bazooka Tooth's alternative title could be Fables of the Reconstruction. Like Fables, Bazooka Tooth is overcast, tense, marked by musical change. Whereas before he had collaborated extensively with producer Blockhead, here he handles the fifteen tracks himself with only a handful of assists, including one beat/verse contribution from Definitive Jux label head El-P (the biter-blasting "We're Famous").

Aesop's stepping to the plate nearly unaccompanied seems to announce that he's done worrying about defining himself and will now concentrate on refining himself. He lyrically hurtles through dystopian beatscapes, unfettered but for the media barrage nipping at his heels, broadcasting stories of lives crashing like stocks and bonds. As for his delivery, he growls cipher acid-etched with a more acerbic edge. His cadence is more forceful, puncturing through the music's dense detritus.

Bazooka Tooth will challenge both foes and fans to reevaluate Aesop Rock; it has a desperation-fueled viewpoint that incites a strange self-assurance, reflecting our current post-9/11 view-from-the-bottom best-to-believe-it-only-gets-better era. Some may feel it difficult to negotiate from beginning to end, but so is your average day. Ace Rock has cobbled together an above-average collection of incendiary spittin' that channels the aggression of living in uncertainty.

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Tony Ware